• Bloomberg index decreases to 42.8 from 43.5 the week before
  • Sentiment about personal finances, buying climate cools

Consumer confidence retreated to a five-week low as Americans became less enthusiastic about their personal finances and the buying climate.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index declined to 42.8 in the period ended Oct. 25 from 43.5. After climbing 5 points from mid-September low to reach a six-month high on Oct. 11, the gauge has given up half the advance in the past two weeks. The measure is holding just below its average for the year.

Since reaching an almost eight-year high in April, consumer moods have settled into a see-saw pattern, similar to recent economic data. While payroll growth has slowed in the last two months and wage gains remain modest, home sales are holding up and gasoline prices are falling.

”Housing has been generally strong, unemployment low and gas prices dropping, but wage growth has been sluggish, with turmoil in the equity markets and international uncertainty,” said Gary Langer, president of New York-based Langer Research Associates LLC, which conducts the survey for Bloomberg.

The cheapest gasoline since February is helping bolster sentiment at the bottom of the income scale. Bloomberg’s measure of sentiment among those earning less than $15,000 a year climbed last week to the highest level since mid-July. At the same time, confidence of Americans making between $75,000 and $100,000 dropped to the lowest level since November.

The measure of Americans’ views of their personal finances decreased to 57.6 last week from 58.4. The buying-climate index, which measures whether consumers think it is a good time to purchase goods and services, fell to 36.1 from 37.2. The index has lost 3.4 points in two weeks, erasing most of its advance from mid-September through the second week of October.

Americans’ views of the national economy were little changed, with the measure at 34.8 last week compared with 35 in the prior period.

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